Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Potter, the wheel and the clay: 9th August 2012. Devon UK

Perhaps one of the favourite promises for believers is that found in Paul's letter to the Romans.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Rom 8:28–30 NKJV.
This seems like a catch-all promise that guarantees the sweet smile of success on all our days, but is it? With all 'legal' documents we have to examine carefully just who the document has in mind and just what it is promising. Are these verses some kind of undertaking that the whole of life is scripted and that God's will is always done?

Let's unpack it in a way similar to the way we worked on Monday. Who is this addressed to? What is its goal? and What is the modus operandi, the way of working?

To see who Paul has in mind will narrow the field considerably. It is addressed to those who are 'God-lovers'. The tense implies someone whose characteristic mood or mind-set is that they love God. Youngs Literal Translation refers to 'to those loving God' Rom 8:28 YNG. So this is not a verse that we can quote in a random fashion. It applies to those, only, who are 'God-lovers'. And it adds a further detail. It describes these 'God-lovers' and those whom God has called with a purpose in mind; those who are the called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28 NKJV. It is plainly referring to God-lovers but what is God's purpose? It is often presumed from these verses that the purpose is 'salvation' but a more careful reading of the promise shows it has another thought in focus; the purpose God has 'in mind' is that these 'God-lovers' would be conformed to the image of his Son. It is not their eternal security that this verse has in mind but their 'likeness to Christ'.

And God's means of achieving this 'purpose'? The verse reads like this; to those loving God, he works all things together for good. This is not saying that all events will somehow turn out for the best. It is not saying that God scripts all events. It is saying that God takes events and co-works those events for the 'good' of those who are loving him. It does not say that God ordained the famine or the war or the sexual assault. It simply says that God takes those events and for those who love God he weaves them together into something 'good'. The word translated 'works-together' is the Greek word synergy; he works them together, they are all in his hands, both the spinning wheel of events and the clay for which he has a destiny. Nothing is wasted in the lives of these people; their joys, their sorrows, their triumphs, their disasters… He holds it all together and pursues his 'purpose'; he will move heaven and earth to conform us to the image of his son. That is his definition of 'good'.

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